When a wound heals, first the bleeding stops. A scab forms and slowly the skin around the wound grows thicker and stretches under the scab until it reaches the other side of the wound. When the scab falls off, there is new skin, there is healing. But sometimes, wounds aren’t allowed to heal. Sometimes, they are picked at and picked at and picked at, and they stay open, weeping.
Maybe I’m not outraged. I’m exhausted and open and exposed and a lot of other people are too because we are wounds that get picked at and picked at and picked at one day, there won’t be anything left to heal.
You’ve all seen these terrible Spencer’s tshirts, right? (If you haven’t, that link is not safe for work or life.) Thanks to coverage on Buzzfeed and Jezebel, we’ve been seeing a lot of outrage, but no action, so we decided to take some. We’ve teamed up with our partners at Powered By Girl to host a t-shirt design contest directly in opposition to Spencer’s gross-ass t-shirt line. We can’t tell you what the prizes are yet, but we promise they’re gonna be AMAZING.
There are two ways to enter:
Design Your Own T-Shirt
In our experience, there’s no better response to misogyny than a boatload of girl-positive pro-lady sentiment to shut out all the haters. And what do you know–Spencer’s has its own “design a t-shirt” nodule on its website that’s perfect for our purposes. You can respond to the sexist trash in the “bestselling” design categories (there are plenty in men’s, women’s, and even maternity because of course there are) or you can create a new shirt entirely of your own design, like we did above. When you’re done, click “enlarge,” take a screenshot, and send it to melissa at sparksummit dot com along with your name, age, and city.
Head over to the Powered By Girl website to use their PBG This! app and respond directly to one Spencer’s t-shirt in particular. Click on “PBG This Ad” below the shirt, log in (or sign up if you don’t have an account already–don’t worry, no one will ever see your info but us!), and use the PBG This! app to draw on, scribble over, and otherwise respond to the shirt. For inspiration, check out what other PBG This! contest entrants have done in the past. Then just save your entry, and you’re done!
We can’t wait to see your entries!
Directing, in particularly, is associated with men; the image we have of a male director with a megaphone, jodhpurs and a monocle. A director deals with three things that are generally thought to be the province of men: enormous amounts of money; advanced technology; and leading large groups of people (often male). It is not dissimilar to leading an army into battle, and we still think of our military leaders as male. But there is another way to look at it: directors are also storytellers and nurturers, qualities sometimes thought of as being in the province of women. The truth is that the skills required to be a great director are not the province of either men or women; they do not divide across gender lines. A director needs to be a leader and a nurturer, both decisive and communicative. These are qualities that can come in both male and female packages.
Our girl Alice wrote this great piece about coming to terms with the fact that we live in a world where if you’re not careful, you’ll be consumed with 24/7/365 anger. We’re big fans of righteous anger—it’s powerful, it can be productive, and it’s something a lot of girls are taught to deny in themselves—we know that feeling nothing butanger isn’t a sustainable way to live, so we’re big fans of this piece, too. Check it out.
If your work is rejected for an obviously bad reason, such as “it’s because you’re a woman,” you can simply dismiss the one who rejected you as biased and therefore not worth taking seriously. But if someone tells you that you are less competent, it’s easy to accept as true. And why shouldn’t you? Who wants to go through life constantly trying to sort through which critiques from superiors are based on the content of your work, and which are unduly influenced by the incidental characteristics of who you happen to be?
There are also “catty” women who are considered petty, malicious, and aggressive, though also somewhat entertaining. Society enjoys pitting women against each other for the amusement of others (see: the majority of reality television) while also trivializing our anger. This is exemplified in the notion of the “bitch,” a word which nearly every single woman has heard aimed in her direction at least once, perhaps because one must only show the slightest expression of passion, anger, or discontent in order to be considered bitchy. As soon as she becomes indignant and raises her voice, a woman loses credibility because she’s considered annoying, whiny, high maintenance, or “nagging” (a nag is an old, tired horse).
There are female athletes who will be competing at the Olympic Games this summer after undergoing treatment to make them less masculine.
Still others are being secretly investigated for displaying overly manly characteristics, as sport’s highest medical officials attempt to quantify — and regulate — the hormonal difference between male and female athletes.
Caster Semenya, the South African runner who was so fast and muscular that many suspected she was a man, exploded onto the front pages three years ago. She was considered an outlier, a one-time anomaly.
But similar cases are emerging all over the world, and Semenya, who was banned from competition for 11 months while authorities investigated her sex, is back, vying for gold.
Semenya and other women like her face a complex question: Does a female athlete whose body naturally produces unusually high levels of male hormones, allowing them to put on more muscle mass and recover faster, have an “unfair” advantage?
In a move critics call “policing femininity,” recent rule changes by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the governing body of track and field, state that for a woman to compete, her testosterone must not exceed the male threshold.
If it does, she must have surgery or receive hormone therapy prescribed by an expert IAAF medical panel and submit to regular monitoring. So far, at least a handful of athletes — the figure is confidential — have been prescribed treatment, but their numbers could increase. Last month, the International Olympic Committee began the approval process to adopt similar rules for the Games.
There’s a lot going on here, but here’s what jumped out at us immediately: Women, particularly women athletes, are constantly told they’re not as strong or fast as men—and now that they’re proving otherwise, they’re being forced to undergo hormone treatments. We don’t think it’s a coincidence that women of color are coming under fire for this more than white women. From the article: “Lindsay Perry, another scientist, says sometimes whole teams of African women are dead ringers for men.” This is a clear example of how we’ve constructed a very particular, very narrow ideal of femininity and womanhood that devalues and casts aside black women in particular.
Just four days left to get your applications in to join the SPARKteam! Perks include:
- Being part of a totally rad and amazing group of girls & women working to change the world and getting results.
- Amazing opportunities—our SPARKteam members have been interviewed on radio, television & in print; spoken at international conferences; and met with execs at major companies to talk about making media a better place for girls of all stripes.
- Getting paid to write.
- Having your writing published on our website & in our extensive network (including outlets like HuffPo)
- Hanging out with your fellow teammates for an intensive activist & media training in Vermont in July (all expenses paid!)
- And MORE but I can’t tell you all the secrets!
Click through for requirements, deetz, & how to apply. Right now we’re especially looking for high school girls, girls of color, & lgbtq girls (we mean all of those letters—trans* girls are welcome & encouraged to apply!) in order to make sure our movement is truly encompassing the experiences, needs, & desires of all girls, but we welcome applications from all girls & young women 13-22. Apps are due June 4th!
If you are a white girl, a black girl or a black boy, exposure to today’s electronic media in the long run tends to make you feel worse about yourself. If you’re a white boy, you’ll feel better, according to a new study led by an Indiana University professor.
Nicole Martins, an assistant professor of telecommunications in the IU College of Arts and Sciences, and Kristen Harrison, professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan, also found that black children in their study spent, on average, an extra 10 hours a week watching television.
"We can’t deny the fact that media has an influence when they’re spending most of their time — when they’re not in school — with the television," Martins said.
Harrison added, “Children who are not doing other things besides watching television cannot help but compare themselves to what they see on the screen.”
Their paper has been published in Communication Research. Martins and Harrison surveyed a group of about 400 black and white preadolescent students in communities in the Midwest over a yearlong period. Rather than look at the impact of particular shows or genres, they focused on the correlation between the time in front of the TV and the impact on their self-esteem.
"Regardless of what show you’re watching, if you’re a white male, things in life are pretty good for you," Martins said of characters on TV. "You tend to be in positions of power, you have prestigious occupations, high education, glamorous houses, a beautiful wife, with very little portrayals of how hard you worked to get there.
"If you are a girl or a woman, what you see is that women on television are not given a variety of roles," she added. "The roles that they see are pretty simplistic; they’re almost always one-dimensional and focused on the success they have because of how they look, not what they do or what they think or how they got there.
"This sexualization of women presumably leads to this negative impact on girls."
With regard to black boys, they are often criminalized in many programs, shown as hoodlums and buffoons, and without much variety in the kinds of roles they occupy.
"Young black boys are getting the opposite message: that there is not lots of good things that you can aspire to," Martins said. "If we think about those kinds of messages, that’s what’s responsible for the impact.
"If we think just about the sheer amount of time they’re spending, and not the messages, these kids are spending so much time with the media that they’re not given a chance to explore other things they’re good at, that could boost their self-esteem."
Martins said their study counters claims by producers that programs have been progressive in their depictions of under-represented populations. An earlier study co-authored by her and Harrison suggests that video games “are the worst offenders when it comes to representation of ethnicity and gender.”
Other research is starting to show the impacts of other kinds of entertainment sources, such as video games and hand-held devices. It indicates that young people are becoming creative at “media multitasking.”
"Even though these new technologies are becoming more available, kids still spend more time with TV than anything else," Martins said.
Interestingly, the young people were asked about their consumption of print media, but the results were not statistically significant.
Martins conducted the research while she was completing her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, as part of a larger longitudinal study done with her co-author, Harrison. They sought out certain school districts in Illinois because of their diversity, but African-Americans were the predominant minority group.